Book Review | The Novice

The Novice (Summoner #1) by Taran MatharuThe Novice (The Summoner #1) by Taran Matharu

2/5 stars

Harry Potter meets Pokémon meets Tolkien …. but not in a good way?
But like … I really wanted to love this book 😦

The Story

Fletcher, an orphan and blacksmith’s apprentice, is forced to run from the only home he has even known. After accidentally summoning a demon, Fletcher finds himself at the Adept Military Academy for summoners. It is a time of war and summoners are needed now more than ever. Does Fletcher have what it takes to keep his past a secret, keep his friends safe from growing tension, and survive the academy?

What I liked

The world was interesting and easy to understand. The demonology was again … interesting an easy to understand. And the fighting was pretty badass.

What I did not like

The biggest issue I had with this book was that there was not enough of any of these above listed elements I actually liked because the story spent too much time of other things that I did not feel added to the plot.

The very beginning of this book throws the reader into a dark and ominous world filled with dangers and cruelty and I loved it so much. Unfortunately the rest of the book took a turn from this initial atmosphere and became a bit too light for my taste. I felt like this book read a little on the juvenile side, at times feeling like it would definitely fit better as a middle grade book than a young adult. The writing was decent but not groundbreaking, and some of the situations were sporadic or simply underdeveloped.

Besides being super cliche’ (which, ok I’m actually not that mad about), the story spends an awful lot of time talking about the growing racial tensions between the elves and the humans and the dwarves … I mean a LOT of time. In fact I felt like when I wasn’t hearing about how mistreated the dwarves or elves were, I was watching a situation where dwarves or elves were being mistreated. That was pretty much the entire book until the end. Talk about overkill! I just felt like these elements could have been discussed and implemented in a better way without becoming the main focus of the entire book.

Which brings me to another thing I was less than happy about with this book. So much of this story felt borrowed which was rather un-refreshing to read. At one point, Fletcher is experiencing an ancient battle between the orcs, specifically an albino white orc, and the humans and the elves, who are riding white stags. And of course the dwarves all ride boars and carry battle axes … any of this ringing a bell? I mean I’m totally ok with applying classic ideas from well known stories in a fresh and new way, but this did not seem unique to me at all.

Furthermore, the characters themselve were flat and bland. None of the characters including Fletcher felt well developed. And Fletcher was perfect in almost everyway. He was absolutely your quintessential special snowflake. He had no real flaws besides being too nice perhaps? I don’t know … I just didn’t buy it. I was looking for a badass, strong minded, bow wielding fighter and what I got was super nice boring guy. Ugh.

In Conclusion

Honestly, there were very few redeeming factors to this book for me. The last 40% became at least interesting, but it still lacked depth in both the writing and development. Basically, I didn’t love this. But I do own The Inquisition (The Summoner #2) and will be giving it a chance to change my opinion of this series as a whole.

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